Pure Barre is a non-impact exercise technique that creates long, lean muscles and increases flexibility through the use of small, isometric movements. These movements work the muscles to fatigue, at which point they are stretched back out again.   In other words, tiny movements and the body’s own resistance is what makes this workout so effective. Clients usually see results in just ten classes. The concentration involved while taking Pure Barre allows you to block “life” out for the hour, resulting in a transformed body and a clear head.

Pure Barre focuses on smaller muscles, often ones clients previously didn’t even know they had. Because of these small isometric movements and its low impact nature, Pure Barre is both a great workout on its own, and also a great compliment to other forms of exercise. People with all kinds of different objectives, including marathon runners, people recovering from injury, and even NFL players, have found Pure Barre to be highly beneficial.

Because Pure Barre uses such small movements, the attention to detail in the classes requires a little bit of learning (just as you probably wouldn’t expect to do every move in your first yoga class perfectly, the same is true in barre).   Here are some tips to help prepare you for your first barre class, or for the veterans out there, to help deepen your technique:

#1: WHAT’S THE “TUCK”?

Tucking (your tailbone) is a very important part of a Pure Barre class, and sometimes it takes a little bit of getting used to. Tucking is pulling your abs in as you drop your tailbone and rotate your hips toward your ribcage.   Tucking can be used to activate different muscle groups depending on your position, and it can be an action or a position. Holding a tucked position means holding your tailbone underneath you to help create resistance, making those isometric moves so effective. Actively tucking, in thigh work for example, would mean also contracting your thighs while tucking, while in seat work it would mean a contraction of the seat, which leads us to #2.

#2: LISTEN UP!

Really listen to verbal cues about what you should be feeling and use that to focus on the muscle group you are trying to work rather than the specific action the teacher is telling you.   The small movements you do in class are a means to engage the muscle group you are meant to be working. For instance, if you are working your seat and the teacher tells you to “squeeze in,” focus less on moving your leg and more on contracting your seat so perhaps your leg moves in one inch towards your midline. The key is to focus more on what you feel than what you see.

#3. IN PURE BARRE, BIGGER IS NOT BETTER

Pure Barre is all about small, isometric movements, using opposing forces of your body to fatigue your muscles. Focus on the contraction of the muscles and try to make sharp movements. The sharper the movement, the longer you will have to hold a contraction, which is what will cause your muscles to shake and ultimately, your body to change, more quickly.

#4 ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY

Be patient with yourself and sit near the front for at least your first few classes. Pure Barre is intelligent exercise and can often have a learning curve. It takes at least three classes to really get the hang of it.   Ask the teacher questions during and after class, and deepen your understanding of it bit by bit. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In a class where small, precise movements are key, sometimes the tiniest adjustment can make the biggest difference. Stick with this plan and make it your goal to take class three to four times per week. Not only will you start to feel like a pro, but you will see a change in your body from all your hard work.

#5 FOR ONE HOUR, FOCUS ON YOURSELF

This advice has two meanings. First, don’t worry about what anyone else in the class is doing – your class is about you and you only. For example, fight to be on YOUR highest heels or get YOUR leg as straight as possible will mean something different for every single person.   Class is not a competition; don’t feel bad if someone slides into a split and your legs are totally bent. Class is about doing your best. Second, find your focus during class – leave your life at the door. Concentrate on the moves, on getting into them deeper, on challenging yourself, on staying in position even when your legs are shaking like leaves. If you do that, not only will you get a great physical workout, but you will feel mentally refreshed from class as well. One hour for an amazing total body workout that also gives you mental clarity? Sign me up.

5 Expert Tips to Get The Most Bang for Your Pure Barre Workout!

By Rachel True, Owner & Teacher, Pure Barre Chicago Old Town